It’s not so much a biopic of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (Natalie Portman) as a portrait of her in the immediate aftermath of her husband’s assassination. The movie is framed by an interview she gave roughly a week after JFK was shot and it flashes back to various scenes from the fateful day up until the day of the interview as well as a televised tour of the White House, which she gave a few years earlier.
The way the movie has been filmed screams “prestige picture” or “Oscar bait”, but it looks fine. The soundtrack is actually rather good. The performances, well, not so much. The actor playing Robert Kennedy looks nothing like the real thing and neither does the actor playing John F. Kennedy, whom I didn’t even recognise in the few scenes, in which he features. I’m not sure about Natalie Portman’s oddly mannered performance and funny accent, too, which may well be accurate, but which sounds, well, like she’s acting. Indeed, that may be the point of the film – that Jackie Kennedy was all about performance – and the movie is not too subtle about making its point: Worried that JFK didn’t achieve much of note politically in his short tenure, she tries to build up or preserve the image of JFK and by extension herself as American royalty. While this is an interesting idea, repeating it over and over doesn’t make for an engaging movie. I found the whole thing terribly boring. 4/10
Free Fire (2017)
British director Ben Wheatley has made some interesting arthouse-y films (‘Kill List’, ‘High-Rise’) and dabbles in something a little more commercial here, although ‘Free Fire’ is a high concept movie: It’s basically 30 minutes of setup (a tense arms deal in 1970ies Boston) and 60 minutes of shootout in a warehouse.
That does sound intriguing and watching ‘Free Fire’, you get the feeling that it was designed to become a cult movie. That’s always a mistake because movies don’t become cult films by design, but because audiences latch onto something weird and underappreciated.
Shootouts by themselves aren’t all that interesting anyway and making a whole movie consisting of nothing but a shootout doesn’t change the fact. After a while, it actually becomes very repetitive to see the injured participants crawling behind cover and firing their guns. That might have been interesting if the characters themselves were better developed, but they aren’t in any way three dimensional and only defined by their attributes (mustachioed IRA terrorist, suave bearded middleman, South African arms dealer etc.).
I’m being slightly too harsh on this film. It’s certainly well-made and has a few nice touches. Overall, I didn’t find this violent action comedy better than average, though.5/10
The LEGO Ninjago Movie (2017)
There’s absolutely no reason to watch ‘The LEGO Ninjago Movie’ unless you have children who are into it. In case you haven’t heard of it: Ninjago is a line of LEGO sets and an associated TV series about six boys and girls who are trained in the martial art of “Spinjitzu” by ancient Master Wu (voiced by Jackie Chan) in order to fight the nefarious Lord Garmadon.
It sounds like nonsense and that’s exactly what it’s meant to be and what it is. The film shows Ninjago City to be an amalgamation of East Asian metropolises (Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo), which is protected by our LEGO ninjas by means of giant robots and Kung Fu. There is no real consistency in its theme, but that isn’t really required. The plot about the mysterious Green Ninja, who is secretly the son of supervillain Garmadon, is fairly simple and straightforward. The animation is fine and in the style of ‘The LEGO movie’ and ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’. Speaking of which, this film isn‘t as clever as the former or as pop culture-savvy as the latter LEGO-themed film, but it has the same irreverent humour and it is funny enough to be watched by adults. Particularly Lord Garmadon is a hoot. While I can’t bring myself to call ‘The LEGO Ninjago Movie’ a good film, it’s a decent watch. 6/10